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Sharks want to put some bite in their game

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Sharks want to put some bite in their game
Taking a bite of the Chicago Blackhawks' game will be a good first step for the Sharks to get back into the Western Conference Finals.
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sharks coach Todd McLellan talks about the fine line between being nasty and being tenacious on the puck and on the body. The fear, of course, is crossing it and spending too much time feeling shame.

"If we're sitting in the penalty box," McLellan said, "we have no chance of coming back in this series."

But if the Sharks don't develop a sharper edge to their game, you can argue they also will have no chance of coming back from the 0-2 hole they dug themselves against Chicago in this Western Conference Final with back-to-back losses at HP Pavilion.

The series has so far been more about civility than malice. The Sharks have to change that in Game 3 Friday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN, RDS) because it might be the only way to disrupt the Blackhawks, who have had no trouble at all operating within their system.

"I was thinking last night that we hadn't played these guys since January or February, we don't have that hatred for them," Sharks center Scott Nichol said. "We should. We can probably play a little meaner and a little nastier in between the whistles."

Some of that nastiness showed up late in the third period Tuesday when Ryane Clowe ignited a scrum on his own with 18 seconds left in the game. Eighteen minutes in penalties were assessed, including a 10-minute misconduct for Clowe, but that was more frustration than anything else -- at that point, it was 4-2 and the fans were already headed to the parking lot.

San Jose has to get meaner when the game is still in doubt.

"We can increase our intensity," captain Rob Blake said. "We can play harder and more effectively with getting out of our zone a little quicker and making sure things go through the neutral zone the way we want them to."

Getting through the neutral zone and getting pucks deep will help the Sharks disrupt the Hawks' way of doing things. It will give them a better chance of making Chicago's defensemen pay a price, something they really haven't done yet in this series.

"When we're going well, we're chipping it and going to get it and we put a lot of heat on their D," forward Dany Heatley said. "I thought (Tuesday) night we didn't do a very good job of getting behind them. We allowed them to really have time to do what they do well."

A key, McLellan said, is placing the puck into the zone properly and forechecking with speed. The Sharks have been a step slower and that has allowed Chicago's defensemen to activate and create offensive chances off the rush.

"Nastiness, I'm not sure that's going to get us what we want," McLellan said. "Tenacity is probably a better word for us."

They probably need a little bit of both.

"We're down 2-0, so something needs to get better," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "It can start with the physical play."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl



Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday